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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 6:07 pm | Fair 58º


Santa Ynez High Principal Mark Swanitz Pleads Not Guilty to DUI Charges

Mark Swanitz Click to view larger
Mark Swanitz

An attorney entered not-guilty pleas Monday on behalf of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Principal Mark Swanitz, who was arrested last month on suspicion of drunken driving. 

Attorney Billy Redell entered the pleas for Swanitz, 50, in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Swanitz was arrested Oct. 21 after a non-injury collision caused by another driver making a left turn on Highway 246 between Solvang and Buellton, according to the California Highway Patrol.

He has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the under influence of alcohol with a blood-alcohol contest above the legal limit of 0.08.

The criminal complaint listed his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash as 0.12. 

Swanitz did not attend Monday's hearing. Defendants in misdemeanor cases are not required to show up and can be represented by their attorneys instead. 

During Monday’s arraignment hearing, Judge Kay Kuns scheduled the case to return to court Dec. 12 for a readiness-and-settlement conference. 

John MacKinnon represented the Santa Barbara  County District Attorney's office for Monday's hearing.

Outside the courtroom, Redell said he plans to review evidence against Swanitz.

“I can tell you that there’s more to this than what the public currently knows,” Redell said. “And sometimes it’s not quite as it’s portrayed initially. There’s more to it.”

The defense attorney declined to expound on that statement.

“I know he’s getting beat up on social media, and I think that’s unfortunate that people draw their own conclusions without knowing the facts,” Redell said.

Redell is the father of two graduates of the high school plus has a third child now enrolled there.

“I think he’s great man who does a fine job over at the high school,” Redell said.

He remains on the job, with district leaders saying they must ensure Swanitz’s due-process rights are not violated while also making the best decision for the school during a meeting where nine people spoke in support of the principal.

Swanitz has been principal since 2010 at the school he graduated from with the class of 1985.

He previously spent four years as principal at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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